Wolverines, Poodles & 7 Years No Vacation
I just came home from a week in Ireland, taking a much-needed rest. This morning I was recalling a 7+ year span where we took no vacation at all, save for occasional visits to stay with family in Nebraska.
That lonely road is so often part of the entrepreneurial journey. It’s part of being… a wolverine.
Poodles get their food and water bowl filled every day. They sleep on the couch, watch Seinfeld reruns with the kids. Their owners take them for trots down the sidewalk.
Wolverines live in the woods, brave ice and snow, mark out large territories, sleep in the wild, eat what they kill.
Poodles live in cubicles.
There’s a time in the life of every entrepreneur where you realize: “Hey wait a minute…. I’m not a poodle. The wild is calling me and its call is irresistible.” You plunge yourself and your family into a life of risk and adventure.
Laura endured much in those baloney sandwich and ramen soup years. She never got new clothes. One time her friend had to coax her to go out for coffee and pay for both of them because Laura had NO money. I was gone all the time and she was alone at home with the kids.
I have nothing against poodles; every entrepreneur knows you need a bunch of them on hand to mind the store.
But I LOVE wolverines. I love entrepreneurs. I admire those who brave the wild.
There is something about that struggle that toughens you up — but there is also something that softens you. When you’re an entrepreneur, you drive by that brand new restaurant that just opened up, and you know EXACTLY what the owner is going through.
You know what he hopes for and you know what it feels like when nobody has walked in his door all afternoon. He hears the refrigerators running and he hears the help washing the dishes and he hears the money going OUT when none is coming IN.
You instantly sense it was the owner who came and greeted you at your table, not just another wait staff, because he carried an air of authority and concern about what you experienced in his restaurant.
You realize that without people like HIM and people like YOU, earth would grind to a halt. You know that no government mandate, no educational program, no platitude or well wishing can substitute for the grit and determination of an entrepreneur’s soul.
The other thing you realize is, he must pay his price for success. Nobody can pay it but him. He has to get his education and it’s never free. He has to buy his equipment. He’s gotta put his balls on the chopping block.
Most of all he has to put his HEART on the line. He hurls his hopes into the crucible.
You don’t win this game without putting your heart in it. Sorry pal, that’s just not how it works. You are going to RISK disappointment. You are going to DARE to hope and DARE to dream. You will live a life of extremes. More pain than most. Yes, more exhilaration than most also.
It reminds me of western Ireland, where I just was: Wild, windswept vistas. Craggy rocks, otherworldly treeless landscapes where the wind howls year ’round. Where the grass is 8 inches thick, so deep your fingers can’t even find the soil. It springs against your feet as you run past perilous cliffs. You look at the land and it feels as though the land is looking right back at you.
Once you’ve paid the price, you have the smell of battle on you. I think of all our Mastermind Club members who gather in our forum. You can TELL that they’re in the game. You know they have skin in the game cuz they show you their scars.
Some folks stereotype entrepreneurs as greedy money grubbers who only care about profits. My experience is, I have to pound the “care about profit” into their heads! That’s because many times what they most desire is to give something to the world and simply have it be accepted.
Whether they’re authors or inventors or restauranteurs, they want people to enjoy and appreciate what they’ve created. They LOVE to help each other. Love it. Yes, they hope to get paid, and yes they want to take great vacations. Still, the joy of having a satisfied customer… or having a beer with another wolverine and sharing war stories… that is often the greatest thing you experience all day.
Every scar, every disappointment, every blind alley – it all pours into the alchemy stir fry. You never know where that lesson learned is going to pay off. It could be next year. But it could also be today.
Because I know YOU are in the fight, I celebrate you.
Seize the day.
“Dreams are free, but they will cost you everything.”